Tag lunch menu

Parties That Cook’s August Cookbook Club: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty

Last week, the ladies of Parties That Cook gathered around the office’s kitchen table (you better believe we have a kitchen in our office!) for August’s Cookbook Club. It had been a while since our last lunch, having skipped July’s Cookbook Club, and it was clear we were all excited to bring it back.

This month it was Erin’s turn to determine our fate select the featured cookbook. She went with Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi (of London). This book provides large, beautiful photos of the completed recipes. They’re quite inspiring. Prime example: Beth got ahold of the cookbook early on. She not only found it a difficult to pick a recipe, but ended up tagging the book with so many post-its you would have thought it was her go-to cookbook! I’m pretty sure she ended up buying the book for herself.

And now, on to the recipes:

Watercress, Pistachio and Orange Blossom Salad – After blatantly calling her out in the previous paragraph, it’s only fair that we put Beth first. Her vibrant salad provided a great break from the bold flavors found in many of the other dishes. After the effort it took to narrow down her selection to this recipe, I cannot wait for Beth to bring in some of her other creations from this book! (Fingers crossed)

Mango and Coconut Rice Salad – Talk about a gorgeous menu item! Heather selected this crisp, refreshing salad – a great option for those with dietary restrictions celebrations. Heather was pretty pleased with her salad, though she did wish there was a bit more flavor to the rice.

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango – Roxanne brought in this delicious dish, and let me just say: YUM. These cold noodles cook very quickly! And though she removed them from boiling water before the recipe had advised, Roxanne still thought they were overcooked. Nonetheless, everyone loved the light, mild citrus flavor of this salad. I enjoyed the leftovers all week!

Eggplant with Buttermilk – Michelene went with the cover recipe – a beautiful, simple dish we all welcomed onto our plates. Michelene said she could see herself making this recipe again for her next get-together.

Stuffed Zucchini – Crissy, also impressed with the amazing photography in the book, claimed the Stuffed Zucchini for this cookbook club. The results: DELICIOUS. On a normal day, one stuffed zucchini could probably serve as lunch in itself. On a cookbook club day, however, we feast!

Mushroom and Herb Polenta – As usual, Rebecca was one of the last to pick her recipe, but this time, it proved worth the wait! This buttery, cheesy side tastes best hot out of the broiler. And while I’m sure one could easily eat a heaping helping of this polenta for lunch or dinner, I’d definitely recommend a light salad to offset the rich flavors of this dish.

Lemon and Goat Cheese Ravioli – Rosie elected to make fresh ravioli, vowing to put her pasta maker to use. Mission. Accomplished. Though they lost some of their heat waiting for certain slow pokes to get their contributions to the table, these giant raviolis were so tasty! I don’t think ONE single ravioli made it to the fridge.

Caramelized Garlic Tart – Bibby selected her dish early on, and boy did she choose wisely! This fantastic tart had a great, crumbly crust (thank you, puff pastry!), and you really can’t go wrong with goat cheese. Perhaps this dish really did live up to it’s hype as the “most delicious recipe in the world,” but I’ll let you decide.

Surprise Tatin – Erin took the cake (pun intended, as we quickly learned this book did not offer dessert recipes!) with the Surprise Tatin. What’s so surprising, you ask? Would you be surprised if I told you those were potatoes layered across the top of that puff pastry tart? BAM! This tart was also quite delicious (another victim of wonderful goat cheese).

Christina was unable to cook for this cookbook club, as she hosted a huge summer bash the day before. Luckily for us, she decided to contribute a simple, delicious (addictive) drink instead! Lemonade + Strawberries + Mint + a dash of Sparkling Water is really the only way to go on a warm summer day. Mmmm!

Notice anything missing from this lunch? (Besides mention of Laura, Kelle or Tanya, each of whom were unfortunately unavailable.) How about MEAT?! That’s right, Plenty is a vegetarian cookbook. And you know, we didn’t miss the usual meaty centerpiece at the table this time. Together, our dishes brought a wholeness to the meal, proving that you don’t need meat to have a truly satisfying lunch/dinner/party. We had PLENTY.

Parties That Cook Hits the New World for October’s Cookbook Club: Norman’s New World Cuisine

October brought with it some rather undesirable weather. The obvious solution for the Parties That Cook office team was to seek refuge in the Caribbean! This was Christina’s month to host Cookbook Club, and we were all too excited after receiving the following invitation:

Join Us for a Trip to the Islands!
We’ll be cooking from Norman Van Aken’s New World Cuisine — creating bright and vibrant dishes to make us feel like we’re on a tropical holiday.
PTC Employees, please state the name of the receipe you will be sharing when you RSVP.
For guests of Parties That Cook, your presence is all we need.
Dress Attaire: Straw hats and sandals!

Norman’s New World Cuisine is full of Caribbean-, Latin-, Asian-, and American-inspired recipes. The flavors found in the book and on our table are said to celebrate America’s dynamic ethnic mix.

Norman’s Hot ‘n’ Nasty Nuts and “Hot Lolita” Cocktails – Rosie brought in both of these hot ‘n’ tasty treats. She lowered the heat on her Hot Lolitas to balance out the potential heat of the nuts and other dishes. In the end, Lolita turned out to be more like Margarita – in the best possible way.

Cava Fondue – Gina chose an amazing dish to present this month. Despite a little confusion over garlic powder and POWER, her cheese blend was not overwhelmed by garlic. Though it may be a little harder to keep than the other dishes, this is an excellent choice for same-day events!

Spring Rolls with Paw Paw Slaw and Ponzu dipping sauce – Kelle and Rebecca tag teamed this recipe, with Kelle covering the Spring Rolls and Rebecca coming in with the Paw Paw Slaw (Note: no paw paw was actually used in the making of this dish. The star in this dish is the Green Papaya). Of course, the delicious dishes came together well, but Rebecca thought she would try the slightly spicy slaw without the liquid-y green papaya next time. We can’t move on to the next recipe until we tell you that intern, Roxanne, was the third musketeer of this team, helping with day-of prep as well as making the off-roaded Ponzu dipping sauce!

Caramelized Plantains Mash en Relleno and the Redlands Tropical Fruit Chutney – Melissa took on two dishes this week. Let me just say: YUM. You can’t go wrong with caramelized plantains, but finishing them in chile skins adds a great twist!

Garlicky Mashed Sweet Potatoes – Michelene scored a touchdown with this dish! The garlic POWER, with its less intense flavor than powder, did not interfere with the precious flavor of the sweet potatoes. Many of us thought this dish could easily fight its way onto the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Sherried Black Beans – Reminiscent of Crissy’s drunken beans, this dish did not disappoint! Though they had quite the kick to them (unless you ask a certain spicy daredevil), everyone agreed they were too good not to eat!

Cuban Pork Asado with Sour Orange Mojo and Saffron Rice — Bibby outdid herself, if you can imagine that. The pork asado was so good we had to fight over what little leftovers there were the next day! The saffron rice made a great partner for most of the other dishes in the meal. We even had a couple of saffron rice converts!

My Mama’s Spanish Cream — Erin was back to dessert again, and chose this dish for her renaissance. The flavor was delicious, but the delicate and somewhat separated texture was not what Erin had in mind. Our cooking whiz guest then imparted some knowledge on us and advised on how one might avoid these results in the future (copper bowl, anyone?)

Spanish Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Fruit and Toasted Almonds — Christina also opted for a dessert this month, and it was scrumptious. The cake was so moist, without being oily, and the flavors went well with the FOUR OTHER DESSERTS we had on the table that day.

Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Cream — Bibby claims she’s not much of a baker, yet she took it upon herself to create this delicious beast of a cake from scratch over the weekend. It wasn’t even from the book! And you wondered why I said she outdid herself… Bibby thought ahead and left a portion pecan-free for Michelene – so nice!

Sugar and Spice Cookies – Our wonderful and extremely knowledgeable new Lead Chef, Heather McCarthy, was our guest this month. Despite the invitation for an effortless lunch, Heather couldn’t help but whip something up. These organic, gluten-free, gmo-free, soy-free, vegan cookies from her new line of treats for people with special food needs could have fooled anyone! Heather’s company, Lou Lou, is taking orders via email, should you decide to try her Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Espresso Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan with Salted Caramel or ALL FOUR. Had we known we would need a second plate for all our desserts, we would have done a better job portioning!

As you can see, this was an incredibly successful cookbook club. As you may have guessed, it lead to an incredibly (un)productive afternoon.
Have you tried this book before? Let us know! Also, suggestions for future cookbooks to try are always welcome!